The pandemic hasn’t been declared over yet, but there’s something to be relieved about on the local level in regard to coronavirus. Damien Scott, CEO of Emanuel Medical Center, says it has been more than a week since the hospital here has seen a COVID admission.
The trend began early last week. As of Tuesday, October 5, the hospital hadn’t seen a COVID patient be admitted in three days. In addition, no new community positives were recorded during that same timeframe.
In the last five days alone, only six positives have been recorded by hospital staff out of 82 total tests administered. Scott went on record on Monday and stated that no new COVID patients had been admitted as of late, either.
“That’s a huge deal,” he said. “For a while, 100 percent of our patients were COVID patients. We know the trend could change, but we’re still grateful for the lull.”
Most experts predict another spike will come in December, so Scott and other hospital leaders are doing their best to allow their staff to recoup until then while squeezing in some learning as well.
“We’ve tried to do this in between each surge. The goal is to rest, get some new equipment, and do some formal training as opposed to ‘training by fire,’ if you will. We really want to lighten the load on our staff, and we do that by giving them the tools they need, the training they need, and, most importantly right now, some time off before December. If I’m wrong and we don’t have another spike, that’s great. We’ve learned some new skills and got some new equipment.”
He continued, commending the mental perseverance of the staff and community alike amid the pandemic, which has hit Emanuel especially hard.
“The toll on my staff has been tough, although I really think the toll on our community has been tough, too. People are more on edge than ever before, and I think COVID has played a big part in that. Thankfully, we’re in a different place now in terms of admissions and community positives.”
As COVID ran wild on the local level, Scott and hospital admins looked to the Regeneron infusion as a proactive measure. The therapy, also called “REGEN-COV,” uses a combination of two types of monoclonal antibodies, which work by targeting the coronavirus spike protein, blocking the virus from entering the body’s cells and stopping the infection from spreading.
“That was an absolute gamechanger,” Scott said. “We were giving the most doses out of any hospital around us, including larger ones. The rationale behind it was that allegedly, Regeneron would stop admissions. We were so overwhelmed that I thought, ‘The fastest way to help us is to give as many of these as possible.’”
From there, Emanuel Medical, as a small, rural hospital, shined in that it didn’t have to cut through red tape for approval. Unlike big companies, Scott and the hospital cabinet were able to get the ball rolling really quickly—and that is precisely what they did.
“One of my managers was like, ‘Look, Look, I’m going to blow this thing wide open like CFA. She did a bunch of them. We probably saved 20 lives by doing that, but it exhausted my team and we started running out of IV supplies. Hospitals have to order supplies according to their historical volumes, and so we were pushing it. Thankfully, we ran out right just a few days before the demand slowed down.”
Those efforts paid off over time. Simultaneously, EMC staff figured out how to handle coronavirus admissions and caring for their patients, so much so that the local hospital actually began being looked to by other areas, eventually accepting outside patients.
“The community should be really proud of the efforts the team put forward. Each time, sure, we’d find things we could do better, and we worked on those things in between surges. We’ll continue to do that. For now, we’re going to stay committed to treating the ones who need us, but we’re also going to try and rest, learn, and regroup.”